ATCHISON, Kan. - A barbed wire fence and a chain link fence were the only things keeping several dangerous exotic animals from escaping in Kansas. Now the man who owns them faces a long list of charges.
"They could have killed someone without a doubt," said Midge Grinstead, Kansas director of the Humane Society of the United States.
Eleven animals were seized Sunday outside of Atchison, Kan., on Sunday. They include a tiger, two mountain lions, a serval, three bobcats, two lynx and two skunks.
"You can't own them as pets. They're not pets," Grinstead said.
Kansas law prohibits anyone from owning exotic animals unregulated, according to Grinstead.
Matthew Baker, 54, now faces 10 different charges not only for possessing them, but for the conditions in which they lived.
Grinstead said the animals' kennels were too small, unsecured, muddy and filled with feces, and that some animals were clearly underfed. She believes a pile of bones indicates Baker was feeding the animals road kill.
Atchison County Sheriff Jack Laurie said Baker's family members own the land, and that they reported the animals in early March.
Until Sunday, the animals remained kenneled as the sheriff's department figured out what to do with them.
"We have no place to put them and no means of taking them. So we had to get the professionals in there to handle them," Laurie said.
He said deputies kept watch over the property and several organizations kept the animals fed. The animals are now under professional care.
Baker appeared in court Monday afternoon because deputies said he was combative as the animals were seized. During the scuffle, the sheriff's department found Baker also had drug paraphernalia.